Mobile Services and Applications: An Empirical Investigation From the Service Supply Perspective
Mobile data service (MDS) supplier decisions about developing and providing a new service (including investment planning and resource allocation prioritization) are informed by the assessment of its potential to generate customer demand. Given the complex and dynamic nature of the MDS ecosystem, coupled with a competitive and technology-saturated customer market, this study contends that a better understanding of MDS supplier perceptions about customer demand may contribute to a better understanding of MDS adoption and use by customers. However, there has been to date limited research into the role of MDS supplier perceptions about customer demand for new and existing MDS. The research presented in this thesis addresses this gap by investigating mobile industry stakeholder perceptions about customer demand for MDS within the context of the MDS supply and regulatory environment. The thesis first develops a conceptual model for the study of mobile data service adoption from an MDS supply perspective that considers the relationship between perceived customer demand for MDS and MDS adoption and use. A research framework derived from the model is applied to a qualitative study of the views of the research participants (MDS developers and providers) about customer demand for and customer adoption of MDS, about the role of key MDS supply stakeholders such as mobile network operators, and about the role and impact of the regulatory environment. Data gathered at two study locations are analyzed extensively. Based on a critical review and synthesis of the findings the study develops propositions and frameworks that address the study?s aim. Overall the outcomes of the study contribute generally to the body of knowledge by: (i) explaining how MDS stakeholder perceptions about customer demand for MDS may affect MDS supply decisions and consequently, customer acceptance and use of MDS; and (ii) demonstrating how an MDS supply perspective that reflects MDS supplier perceptions about customer requirements, expectations, and specific attitudes, may be added to models for the investigation of MDS adoption and use. In doing so the study makes several specific contributions. It proposes a perceived service value framework that includes three new dimensions: perceived service need (service specialization, uniqueness, mobility support, and ability to enhance quality of life), perceived service choice (customer expectations to be able to benefit from an ?always competitive? service environment), and perceived service delivery performance (the interplay between service performance in the technical sense, and service performance in terms of meeting customer expectations about service capabilities). Furthermore, the study proposes a novel two-dimensional MDS customer typology that considers customer conservativism and customer attitude to paid mobile services. The typology identifies factors that may facilitate attitude change and lead to a transition from a ?less likely to adopt MDS?? customer type, to a ?more likely to adopt MDS? one. The study proposes as well an MDS adoption and use framework that links perceived service value and customer type, and shows how perceived awareness, affordability and trialability, social factors, and incentives to use, may act as change factors, moderating the effect of perceived service value and customer type on MDS adoption and use. The study offers a number of recommendations that have practical implications. First, that developing mobile alternatives to existing services remains a viable business option as customers expect to have a choice of services. However, in order to compete with services offered on other channels, mobile alternatives need to be carefully designed and priced. Second, that in order to be successful, technologically innovative MDS need to be developed with one or more specific customer segment?s existing or potential needs in mind. Therefore, extreme attention needs to be paid to the service?s overall performance as a customer may never return to an MDS that has not met his or her expectations. Third, for a new MDS, non-traditionalist customers who accept the commercial nature of MDS should be targeted first. Smart device ownership is a strong MDS adoption motivator. Therefore, MDS suppliers need to form partnerships with device/platform vendors (and MNOs) in order to create service promotion platforms, and to offer appropriate adoption incentives. Importantly, MDS suppliers should seek to develop active relationships with their customers by providing a service value co-creation space (including social media channels) with opportunities for customer participation, and by opening up the service development process to facilitate critical evaluation and use of customer input. Finally, the study contributes methodologically by developing a robust, comprehensive and auditable methodology for gathering and thematically analyzing qualitative data guided by a research framework, and preparing the data for further analysis. The methodology could be applied to other contexts and other research topics where interview data are to be gathered and analyzed thematically (possibly but not necessarily applying a CAQDAS).